Earth Gauge Tip of the Week: Walk Wisely in the Woods

Reader Contribution by Earth Gauge
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As you get outdoors this fall, know how to protect yourself if you are allergic to urushiol oil of plants, such as poison ivy and poison oak.  Poison ivy’s appearance can vary greatly between plants and in different locations.  It always has three leaflets per stem, but some leaves can be broad and big like an oak leaf while others on the same plant are small and narrow.  Leaves may have smooth or indented outer margins.  Color can vary from red, in the fall, to bright green.  The plant may be ground cover, a shrub or grow as a large vine on trees.

Viewer Tip:  It’s wise to wear long sleeves and long pants if you’re walking in brushy areas.  Treat potentially affected areas right away.  Also avoid burning these plants, which can inflame your lungs.  You may react more to urushiol-containing sap over time and react to other plants in the sumac family.

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This tip is provided by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  For more information, visit